You were in a car accident and suffered injuries. Now all you want to do is heal and get your life back on track. Unfortunately, the process of obtaining compensation for car accident injuries isn’t always straightforward. At times, it can even be frustrating. Do you need to file a car accident claim or a car accident lawsuit? What’s the difference between the two?
What Is a Car Accident Claim?
In most cases, the road to obtaining compensation begins with filing a car accident insurance claim, where you notify the insurance company about your injuries and damages. After you file your claim, the insurer will then assign an adjuster to your claim. This adjuster will investigate and review the facts concerning your car accident.
During the investigation, the insurance company adjuster will analyze your medical records and carefully review the police report. They may schedule you for an independent medical examination (a physical conducted by one of their own physicians). You may even be placed under surveillance. The adjuster’s investigation may involve the following:
- Speaking with eyewitnesses;
- Visiting the scene of the accident;
- Taking pictures of the scene;
- Assessing any damages to property; and,
- Evaluating any other evidence.
The adjuster will more than likely wish to speak to you as well. Sometimes that means having you record a statement. While you should always be professional and polite, you should never leave a recorded or written statement without your car accident lawyer present. Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company, who is going to look for ways to get out of paying out on your claim. So the adjuster may attempt to goad you into making a statement that ultimately harms your claim.
After the adjuster completes their investigation, the insurance company will decide to either approve or deny your claim. If you do not agree with the insurer’s assessment, you can then file a lawsuit. One thing to note is that the insurer may offer you a settlement at this point — but that initial offer is almost always pretty low.
What Is a Car Accident Lawsuit?
You may have to file a lawsuit if an agreeable settlement cannot reached. Since car accident lawsuits are a more formal process, your lawyer will initiate the lawsuit by filing a written complaint and other documents with the court.
Before your lawsuit goes to trial, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Notify the insurer about your lawsuit
- Exchange any evidence with the defendants
- Take sworn testimonies, or depositions
- Attend hearings and respond to legal arguments
- Participate in dispute resolution processes, such as mediation
- Negotiate a settlement with the insurer
If you cannot resolve your case out of court, you will have to go to trial. During trial, your attorney will present arguments and evidence that support your claims. Once the prosecution and defense rests, the presiding judge will issue their verdict.
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
While a car accident attorney isn’t necessarily required to file your claim or lawsuit, it is very much in your best interests to hire one. Keep in mind that the insurance company has a team of lawyers ready to defend their position. You need someone experienced enough to go toe-to-toe with them.
Since car accident claims are rarely cut and dry, you need an attorney to help you build a strong case. They can help you accurately evaluate the worth of your claim, as well as negotiate directly with the insurance company to obtain a fair settlement. In addition, if the insurer refuses to offer just compensation, your attorney can litigate your case in court.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer Today About Your Case
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when dealing with a car accident claim or car accident lawsuit. At Brylak Law, we can help you investigate your case and guide you through the process. Contact us today to learn more.